Nala´s World #8: Hunting for Little Green Sacks

Hey, peeps, are your humans also losing everything? Well – my mom does – most often when we train this HPR stuff – you know: hunt, point and retrieve. There she never seems to be sure where those little green sacks have gone.

Since we all know that our human pets are really bad in sniffing and finding, I always get assigned to bring those sacks or dummies, as they are called, back to her. But hey – I love that, so I am always more than pleased to do the job. Mom claims that she is not loosing those sacks, but that she is training me when sending me out to find them – that figures.

Anyway, so today I wanna woof to you about this dog dummy work. It was actually invented by British hunters. They wanted to train outside hunting season, so they took little sacks and used it as “artificial prey”. Today these dummies are mostly green and weigh 500 grams. So basically in canine dummy work the dog and handler go hunting together – just no real game is involved.

What started as a form of training now is a real sport with working tests, exams etc. The tasks are very similar to a duck hunt. They consist mostly of a combination of basic obedience/steadiness/memory with three core elements: "marks", "blinds" and "high" lost searches.

In a "mark" search, the dog and handler have seen the whole or part of the dummies (acting as a shot duck´s) landing somewhere. So the dog has to mark/remember the direction and depth of where the dummy (or duck fell in real life). After being sent, the dog has to run there directly, pick the dummy up and bring it back to the handler. There are many ways to vary the difficultness: distance, wind, area transitions (forest/meadow) and various tasks in between the falling and being sent etc.

Here you can see me (Nala aka Dummy Hunter) going for a mark – it was about 100 meters, I could not see the whole trajectory and before I could pick up the fallen dummy, my friend Bailey had to pick up a second dummy:

The second core element in dummy-work are "blinds". As the word implies, the dog has not seen where the dummy/duck has fallen – the handler is told the approximate point and has to send the dog there or direct him to find the dummy. The dog shall travel in straight lines, stop when being told so and accept all directions (forward/left/right/back). After the dog has reached the assumed point of the dummy, the handler gives the “search” whistle command. When finding the dummy, he shall pick it up and bring it back quickly. This is me working a blind over a small river – mom was very mean and had it put in stinging nettles (booo!!), but this does not stop me so ha!

The final element in dummy work is "high lost searches" where neither the dog nor the handler know the exact point and number of hidden dummies/game. The handler is just given the search area´s outlines. The dog shall search with speed and style, not change dummies, e.g. after finding one dummy, the dog will pick up the dummy and bring it straight back. Here you can see me and my friend Alwin doing a small search out the line.

In general, a dog is not allowed to make any noise while working (barking/whining etc.) as this may startle the game, he is neither allowed to ignore a dummy nor to not bring it back directly to the handler. Well, that was a short insight in our dummy work. It is a lot of fun and great for the team spirit! By they way – where did I hide that pig nose again? Hmmph, better go lookr it – take care :-)

Yours Nala


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